uk.rec.climbing FAQ

This article was first published back in the 1990s and then updated in May 2000. It covers the uk.rec.climbing newsgroup that existed at the time before Rocktalk came along. It was the place where Internet groups first got together. 

Most of the links in this article have long since died so they have all been removed. The article itself is being preserved here for posterity. It was original compiled by Charles Arthur and John Masland.

uk.rec.climbing - How to get it

What is uk.rec.climbing?
uk.rec.climbing is a newsgroup for climbing related discussions which are primarily of concern to climbers in the United Kingdom; that is Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. It was created in November 1994 after a vote. (The voting procedure and the result were posted to rec.climbing.)

Most people now use "free" Internet service providers whose setup disks automatically configure programs to connect to the right news server. But in case yours hasn't, and you want to see what it involves...

How to get uk.rec.climbing:

  1. Decide what program you use to read "news"
    This will often be a browser like Netscape Communicator (not Navigator) or Internet Explorer. There are also dedicated "newsreaders"which do a much better job. Outlook Express, which many people use, is halfway between the two. It's OK, but it's really not as good as the real newsreaders (do a Web search for "newsreading program" if you want to find one that might be suitable).
  2. Check the settings in the "news" preferences
    The file server which provides you with news is usually just the ISP name with "news" in front - for example, at freeserve it is Most ISPs newsreaders can only be accessed if you are a subscriber.
  3. Connect to the news server, and look for uk.rec.climbing.
    The vast majority of sites / service providers in the UK and many outside the UK (such as AOL) take the uk.* hierarchy of net news which should include uk.rec.climbing. (There are a gazillion uk.* groups, so do a search for* to find it.)
  4. If it's not there, ask your support people to add it.
    If you get the uk hierarchy but not uk.rec.climbing this is probably due to the poor propagation of the newgroup control message when the group was initially created. Contact the news administrator at your site / service provider and ask them to newgroup uk.rec.climbing. (They will usually be at support@thenameofyourISP).
  5. If they won't add it, go to
    This is a Web-based service which carries pretty much every group you can imagine. You can register there for free and get a "news" account which will include being able to post to uk.rec.climbing. This will need a browser and can be a bit clumsy, but at least it's on your computer.

uk.rec.climbing FAQ

Version 1.7 13 March 2000 (links updated)

The uk.rec.climbing FAQ - your British belay partner on the Internet

Includes translation for Americans!

1) What does this group discuss?
First, it is NOT for purely commercial messages, for those of you who get this far. (Some don't.) We don't want your tedious adverts. If you run a climbing-oriented company, put the details in your .sig (signature) and join the discussion. People flame advertisers. But they click on URLs in .sigs. It's that simple.

1a) Er.. so what does this group discuss?
Almost anything, as long as it vaguely relates to Britain (or things or people British) and climbing or mountaineering (including ski-mountaineering and Alpinism). According to the charter, you can add "anything else which may be of interest" in the UK, or by Brits around the world. Mainly the focus is on the eastern side of the Atlantic. For world issues, and a generally more American slant, try rec.climbing.
  If you're also interested in walking - generally taken to be less vertical stuff with bigger boots and without ropes - you could have a look at uk.rec.walking.

2) I'm buying my first rack/ trying to mark the middle of my rope/ ...What should I do?
The brilliant Frequently Given Answers to these questions and many more can be found at Stefan's Frequently Given Answers page which is a...

3) Where is the nearest climbing wall? I live in....
Why not try the UKClimbing web pages which have a huge searchable listing of climbing walls, with phone numbers, maps to help you find them, costs, opening times, details and reviews for many of them? Alternatively, the British Mountaineering Council's web page, at has a list, but frankly it's less accurate and doesn't have reviews.

4) What other things are available on the Web about climbing in the UK?
Apart from the UK Climbing and BMC pages, there's ClimbUK which has lots of news and other info (climbing walls, accommodation, gear reviews).
There's the Scottish Mountain archive, which is at ....
And then there's a page full of links to climbing things all over, at...
There's the RockFax site, which has tons of climbing both in the UK and US, at
There's the Unofficial UK Climbing page, which has a guide to chalk (as in Dover) at...
There's another terrific page (including travel info) at....
Sid Siddiqui, everybody's favourite quarry bolter, has a page at....which includes lots of new route info.
There's a page with Factory Shops and deals at.... We also like the Slackjaw page (if you liked Hard Grit, you'll like this) at - go have a look.
Why, you could spend all your life on the Web and not actually manage to climb at all. (This is not recommended.)

5) What's the weather going to be like this weekend? I'm going to..
You can find the BBC's version of UK weather (5-day - that is, including today) at (rated "good about 70% of the time" by Steve Gray), and the Teletext one at.....(includes Anglesey and Keswick - thanks, Tim Sly).
PA has a site a...(rated "good about 50% of the time" by Steve Gray) and...which the not-at-all weather-obsessed Steve Gray says gives two-day regional forecasts.
There there's....which gives a "true 4-day forecast", according to someone, initials SG.

6) What are snow + ice conditions in Scotland like?
The Scottish Ski & Winter Activity Report is at ...... It takes an age to load, even on a fast connection, but be patient - it's worth it.
Or the CairnGorm Weather Home Page (it's got a camera!).....
Or an American one with some European info at.....
Or ask here in the newsgroup, specifying which bit of Scotland (etc) you're interested in. Note also that avalanche conditions are posted to the newsgroup automatically during winter by the Avalanche Server.

7) Where's the nearest climbing club? I live in...
Five options (best first):

  1. Search UKC
  2. buy one or all of the climbing mags (Climber, High and On The Edge) and take a look in the back pages;
  3. take a look at the links page on....
  4. ring the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) on 0161-445-4747;
  5. post something here.

The BMC do answer the phone. Of course, the World Wide Web is always open, unlike newsagents, so the links and search pages might be your best starting point.

8) Sod all that, I was actually wondering about caving.
uk.rec.caving was created early in November 1996. Try your newsgroups list; you could also contact David Gibson on ....if more help is needed.

9) Can anybody here actually climb?
The skill level of people who post and lurk here varies from beginner to E9 leader (ahoy, Seb Grieve, Meshuga E9 6c 1st ascent). Among mountaineers, they've been all over Scotland, Europe and the Himalaya. Someone here almost certainly climbs at the same grade as you. More usefully, someone here almost certainly climbs better - meaning you can get useful advice and information from them. (Actually, that's sort of the idea of newsgroups.) And someone almost surely climbs worse, so you can give them the benefit of your helpful advice.

10) Should I post a test message here, to check my system works?
No thanks. If you can read this, you should be able to post too. If you have a burning urge to post a test message, try.....

11) Can I post pictures of my wonderful climbing trip here?
No thanks at all - binaries take enormous amounts of space, and are even more hated than test messages. Take it from us - binary posts have been tested on uk.rec.climbing denizens for irritancy, and work all too well. "Post a binary, go to hell", one might say: you post the binary, we tell you to go to hell, express route.
Why? Because some people use systems which download every message in the newsgroup before they can read them, and binaries take thousands of times more filespace than text. This means your binary post racks up other people's phone bills. (For anyone who didn't know, Britons have to pay for local phone calls.)
If you have an unstoppable urge to show yourself or someone else off, post pix to or on a Web site, and post a short message in uk.r.c.

12) I've just developed this really great 55-line ASCII signature showing a climber dynoing for...
Same as for binaries and test messages. Not welcome, thanks.

13) Can I post trip reports?
Please do (and more people are) - as long as they're about a trip in the UK (whatever your nationality), or a Briton's trip elsewhere. Otherwise, post to rec.climbing (and if you want, send a short posting to uk.r.c. too).

14) I can't get away this weekend but I want something that looks like climbing to happen on my computer. Any advice?
There's a screensaver, written by uk.r.c crimper Paul Roberts, that everyone says is terrific, available for free at .....There's also a Mac version, if you have the AfterDark screensaver. Put those wasted CPU cycles to work!

15) How do I stop my car being broken in to at a crag?

  1. don't take your car, get a mate's
  2. don't park it at the crag
  3. leave some women's underwear in the back window [this advice comes from Michele Cleveland, who swears it works - though it didn't for her mate, whose car was broken into at Froggatt] or
  4. leave a used baby's nappy on anything nickable. We don't know if the latter works or not, but you'd be able to smell the thieves for miles..

16) How do I stop from dying at the crag?
This is mostly your own business - wear/don't wear a helmet, solo/don't solo, etc. A terrific piece of advice though to prevent your rope unclipping from your gear if you do peel comes from Bob Wightman: "you should always clip the gear so that the gate of the lower crab faces away from you. Provided that you are not going to traverse past it. The reason being that if you fall there is a VERY small chance of the rope passing over the outside of the gate and unclipping the crab." The other thing to not do is "back clip", which involves passing the rope from over the crab you're clipping into the rock and up to your harness. This wrecks ropes. A bit, anyway.

17) I'm not from the UK. Can I post things here?
Sure. But don't be surprised if your post is received with laconic irony; Brits don't expect anyone else to understand anything about the sport in the UK. (So it's best to use words like "Stanage" and "queue" somewhere in your offering.) Questions like "Is there any mountaineering in Scotland during winter?" earn the respect they deserve.

And a brief language glossary for American visitors: over here, it's krab, not biner (here, that's a hat); ab, not rap (song style); tick, not send (letters); groove not dihedral (crystal structure); bridge not stem (plant part); crimp not crank (old car starter); mate not dude (rich fop); wall not gym (iron-pumping site), sport-climbing not rad (scientific measurement), Egyptian not drop knee (surgeon's accident), Leo Houlding not Chris Sharma (who?); Cenotaph Corner not Open Book (pre-Internet reading technology).
So the American sentence "Dude, I was crimping up this dihedral, stemming like mad, totally rad, I was pumped like crazy, far more than in the gym that time, and then the biner broke - it was utterly freaky! Eventually we had to rap off" becomes, in English, "Oh, nothing much.. did the Corner... want a drink?"

18) What *are* the frequently asked questions, then?
Gear questions - about anoraks, shoes, iceaxes and other stuff - are perennial, and always draw a big response, so they can't be boring, can they?
Where to go questions - can anyone recommend a good climb at Pembroke, in the Peak District, on Ben Nevis.. if you're going to ask, do try to give some details (such as where you're going, what grades you can lead/second, do you want adventure or safety, single or multi-pitch, one day or a week). Don't exaggerate your abilities. Who knows, your life (and someone else's) might depend on it.
Student questions (why are they allowed out, why can't non-students see how useful student clubs are) tend to rev up every October/November. Posts from students tend to quieten down as exams loom around April/May.
Grading questions (Is Three Pebble Slab/Long Johns Slab overgraded, is Everything in Yorkshire/Scotland undergraded) are perennial too, but often draw a good crowd.
Sodoff questions (as in, "Why don't you sod off and die?") arise from time to time, usually between any two people. The effects are usually brief and not widespread.

19) What are these PP things I see mentioned in some posts here?
They are the long-lost remnants of an age when giants bestrode the Earth. Oh, all right, they're the relics of an in-joke from a while ago. If you're really interested, have a look at DejaNews under "uk.rec.climbing" and "PP". You'll be an expert before you know it, but after your best friends do.

20) How can I be sure what I post is relevant to uk.rec.climbing?
In their more peevish moods, some of the uk.r.c. denizens will flame almost anything that apears on their screens. Yes, you can advertise your gear for sale (personal only, rather than trade please, by longstanding Usenet practice) or discuss differences between boots or whatever takes your fancy. Relevancy will be determined by it being either ignored or setting off a long and worthy thread.
Bear in mind that blatant, boring or repeated adverts are very, very, very unpopular. And, to repeat, the best way to advertise a Web site, in the long run, is to put it in your .sig. (If you don't know what a .sig is, either read the help file on your newsreading software or pay a visit to the newsgroup news.answers.)
If you are repeatedly and gratuitously offensive to people they won't like it. This is rather like real life. However, instead of kicking you they may just get you kicked off your Internet service provider. Then you have to tell everyone you've got a new email address and the cycle is likely to repeat. It's your lookout.
In the final analysis - try it and see! Remember, you have less chance of being physically hurt here than on a crag, unless you're sticking a fork in the toaster while reading this. Emotionally hurt.. well, take your chances.

21) I've seen some posting about how to become a millionaire and I want to tell whoever sent it that, goodness me, I really disapprove quite strongly of them. What's the best way to do it?
Not by hitting "reply" and filling the screen with four-letter words. The posters of such stuff disappear rapidly; your reply, though, will linger like a stale fart, and be as welcome. Either ignore it or learn more about the Internet, and the function of "postmasters".

22) Is this newsgroup archived anywhere?
Actually, almost every newsgroup is archived by those near-altruistic folks over at DejaNews. You can find out whether something you're wondering about has ever been asked - though if it has (and provided it hasn't been beaten to death) don't let that put you off asking again. After all, we might all be much wiser since we last dealt with whatever it was.

23) I've read all this and I'm still not sure about posting to uk.r.c. What advice do you have?
Very simple. First, there are no rules; second, if you break any of them, you will be treated to the classic British sarcasm which we use instead of flaming here. And if you find that upsetting, well, don't worry. It's not as if it's real life or anything. Keep that in mind and just post anyway.

uk.rec.climbing Rules & Regulations

Just in case you didn't know, newsgroups are started by writing a charter, publishing it and then getting people to vote on it. Here is the which started off uk.rec.climbing. It was prepared by John Marsland in November 1994. The results of the voting were 54 YES votes and 23 NO votes, for a total of 77 valid votes. There was 1 abstain.

Once the a group is up and running the same old questions, grievances and cockups keep on annoying people. So then we get the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which is intended to keep hackles firmly in their place. Charles Arthur prepared the official(ish) one for uk.rec.climbing after a vaguely democratic discussion.

The Charter
Newsgroups line:
uk.rec.climbing Discussion of rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering.

This vote is being conducted by a neutral third party.

A new newsgroup is proposed for the discussion of

  1. climbing in the UK
  2. climbs by UK climbers worldwide
  3. anything else which may be of interest.

where climbing can be defined loosely as any activity from the following list.

  1. rock climbing including sport climbing
  2. ice climbing
  3. mountaineering including ski-mountaineering
  4. Alpinism and climbing in the greater ranges

The function of the uk.rec.climbing is regarded as complimentary to that of rec.climbing which has a worldwide role.

The uk heirarchy is not part of the 'big 7' Usenet heirarchy and as such is not bound by the rules regarding the vote on the creation of a new group. The creation of uk.rec.climbing is the first creation in the uk heirarchy to be strongly contested during the discussion stage and as such a vote was considered to be appropriate. However there are no existing rules about voting for a uk group so an informal group of five people (two proponents, two opponents and one neutral) corresponded by email to establish the format to be adopted. The consensus (not unanimous) view of the group was that the vote should be decided by a simple majority, that the voting period should be fourteen days and that a call for votes should be posted to both rec.climbing and
This call for votes will be carried worldwide by the newsgroup rec.climbing. However people reading this call outside the United Kingdom are requested to assess their own eligibility to vote as guided by the following statement.

This vote is for the creation of a new group in the uk heirarchy and it is expected that only those people with a strong interest in climbing in the United Kingdom will vote. This will include British people living overseas. People with a marginal interest in climbing in the United Kingdom are requested not to vote.

The newsgroup uk.rec.climbing will be created if there are more YES votes than NO votes. The result of the vote will be posted to both rec.climbing and A period of five days between the posting of the result and the creation of the newsgroup will be allowed for any procedural objections to be made. Objections must be posted to

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10 Jun, 2008
The spam is annoying, but I don't think there's actually all that much of it - its just really prominent because of the lack of traffic. A lot of newsgroups seem to be dying out, it is quite sad. Its surprising how many of the old you@rsey stalwarts are still lurking though, every once in a (long) while something interesting gets posted and they all pop up briefly before disappearing again. Sean x
10 Jun, 2008
As an old stalwart of that group, albeit under my real name rather than a nom de web, what stopped me posting on it was the lack of support for newsgroups in outlook when my work PC got changed. There was some good stuff on there mind, but I suspect its time has been and gone. Steve P still archives the trip reports. T.
10 Jun, 2008
Yeah - I stopped posting when I moved work to a place with no news server. I could still see it on the web, but it just wasn't as slick and efficient as it had been via a news server. Those were the days - before undergraduates had internet access, and hardly anyone had it at home! And threads had to be on topic or everyone went mad!!! And you knew everyone on the newsgroup! But we still had cake....
10 Jun, 2008
Same here - I can't even remember how I accessed it, some defunct software I guess. I have a mate who remembers the debates between the Brits and Americans that led to the split from rec.climbing and led to the formation of uk.rec.climbing! I think I was still doing my a levels back then and the only computer I knew off was my families dusty old ZX spectrum.
10 Jun, 2008
I still have the t-shirt...the second version. T.
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